By Susan McFarland – UPI
Public schools in Oklahoma will close for a third straight day Wednesday, as teachers head to the state capitol to press for higher wages and better educational resources.
The walkout began Monday and was originally intended as a one-off, single-day event, but the local and national response has led educators to continue.
A number of students plan to join the teachers Wednesday at a 10 a.m. rally in Oklahoma City. Demonstrators with Student Voices for Education will protest outside the statehouse and meet with legislators inside.
Oklahoma City Public Schools said it will again feed the students with hundreds of meals. More than 1,500 were distributed Monday.
Dozens of organizations, churches and businesses have also stepped in to help parents with child care as the strike continues. Hours have been extended at the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County, Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden are offering day camps. The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City added more staff and extended hours for its before- and after-school programs.
The Oklahoma movement has received national attention as teachers call for better pay and more money to educate their classes. Teachers in Kentucky have also gathered the past two days in Frankfort to demand Gov. Matt Bevin veto a controversial bill passed last week that made significant changes to educators’ pensions.
Demonstrations in both states followed a similar movement in West Virginia last month — which, after nearly two weeks of a school shutdown, resulted in a 5 percent pay raise.
In Tucson, Arizona, where teachers are demanding a 20 percent raise and more than $1 billion in educational resources, “walk-ins” are planned at some schools. Those demonstrations will see teachers gather before classes to discuss challenges, followed by a “walk-in” to the schools with parents and students to show solidarity.
After school Wednesday, teachers said they plan to march from Tucson High School to the state capitol downtown for a 4:30 p.m. rally. Next week, more districts in Arizona are expecting to join the demonstrations.